6

I always wanted to know which is the legal status of the associated states of United States like Puerto Rico.

  1. Who is the state head, of this kind of territory?
  2. Why can't they vote for the United States President inside of their territory?
  3. How is their budget assigned?
  4. Do they receive federal help in cause of natural disaster?
  5. Are they allowed to receive help in case of economic troubles?
  6. Which are the differences between this kind of territory and a normal state of the Union?
  7. And more important in what part of the Constitution this system is allowed, and who invented it?
  • 4
    7 questions in one, this is starting to feel a bit too broad. – yannis Dec 5 '12 at 12:23
  • I wanted to make all questions in one, to avoid the this is related to.... so closed. – Alberto Bonsanto Dec 5 '12 at 12:32
  • In order for people to better find this question I would propose a rewording of the title… anything in the direction of "What are the conditions and benefits of U.S. insular properties like Puerto Rico?" – Sven Clement Dec 6 '12 at 0:30
9

Who is the state head, of this kind of territory?

The state head is the current state head of the United States, in this case Barack Obama

Why can't they vote for the United States President inside of their territory?

As the president is elected by the electoral college, which in turn is composed of a number of electors. The number of electors in each state is equal to the number of members of Congress to which the state is entitled. As Puerto Rico (as does Guam too) isn't represented in Congress, they have no electors and can thus not influence the election. So the question should probably be "Why is Puerto Rico not represented in Congress?". To that question one could answer that the territory of Puerto Rico is simply the property of the U.S. and not an independent body, thus it is up to the federal government if they grant any rights to the structure of Puerto Rico (as has been done in 1950).

How is their budget assigned?

The contribute and benefit to/from the federal budget of the U.S.A. and have their own "state" budget similar to the 50 states.

Do they receive federal help in cause of natural disaster? Are they allowed to receive help in case of economic troubles?

In 1992 then president Bush wrote a letter to all the federal agencies stating that they should treat the same way than one of the 50 states. As they contribute to the federal budget they do also receive help from it.

The Puerto Ricans are also contributing to the social systems and benefit in case of need from them.

Which are the differences between this kind of territory and a normal state of the Union?

Puerto Ricans only benefit of the basic rights and have no representation in the US houses. They do pay all federal taxes but may be subject to local taxation too. They do also serve in the U.S. military branches. In principle the only distinction is the rights they hold vis-à-vis the 50 states citizens.

And more important in what part of the Constitution this system is allowed, and who invented it?

Constitutionally, Puerto Rico is subject to the Congress's plenary powers under the territorial clause of Article IV, sec. 3, of the U.S. Constitution.

"The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States ..."

So nobody except the founding fathers invented it.

  • I'm still editing, give me some time ;) – Sven Clement Dec 5 '12 at 11:46
  • I added a new question. – Alberto Bonsanto Dec 5 '12 at 12:12
  • I replied. I would propose to not add more sub-questions but if you think the scope is wide enough but yet also narrow to open more questions instead of adding sub-questions… – Sven Clement Dec 6 '12 at 0:18
  • 1
    FYI, Puerto Rico is represented in Congress, just by a non-voting member. It has the exact same status as the District of Communists, err.. Columbia. – Affable Geek Jan 24 '13 at 22:20
1

Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, that was surrendered to the US from Spain in 1898, with the Treaty of Paris. The 1952 Constitution of Puerto Rico that was approved by a popular referendum, reaffirmed its status. The introduction & the first article of the constitution explain the relationship with the US:

Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

We, the people of Puerto Rico, in order to organize ourselves politically on a fully democratic basis, to promote the general welfare, and to secure for ourselves and our posterity the complete enjoyment of human rights, placing our trust in Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the commonwealth which, in the exercise of our natural rights, we now create within our union with the United States of America.

...

ARTICLE I THE COMMONWEALTH

Section 1. The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is hereby constituted. Its political power emanates from the people and shall be exercised in accordance with their will, within the terms of the compact agreed upon between the people of Puerto Rico and the United States of America.

Section 2. The government of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico shall be republican in form and its legislative, judicial and executive branches as established by this Constitution shall be equally subordinate to the sovereignty of the people of Puerto Rico.

Section 3. The political authority of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico shall extend to the Island of Puerto Rico and to the adjacent islands within its jurisdiction.

Section 4. The seat of the government shall be the city of San Juan.

Its head of state is the president of the United States and its head of government and commander-in-chief is the Governor of Puerto Rico, who's also responsible for presenting the budget to the legislative assembly for their consideration.

The current status of Puerto Rico was put to the test in November 6, 2012, with a referendum. The results seem to favour statehood, but right now the issue is still open.

  • in 1989? wasn't in 1898? – Alberto Bonsanto Dec 5 '12 at 12:31
  • @AlbertoBonsanto Oooops! – yannis Dec 5 '12 at 12:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.